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  • The Third Place

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on November 8th, 2018 (All posts by )

    Saloon

    I am reading, by listening to the audio, a book called The Revolt of the Elites, which was written in 1996 but I just discovered it.

    The theme, which is quite timely, is that there are two worlds in this country; that of the elites and that of everyone else. From a review on Amazon:

    Lasch was most active in the late twentieth century yet it would seem he was seeing into the future with this book and his equally (or more) famous book, The Culture of Narcissism. In Revolt of the Elites he posits that the degeneration of Western Democracy has been caused by the abandonment by the wealthy and educated elites of their responsibilities to support culture, education, the building of public facilities, etc. in these societies. The rich and educated in Western Liberal, Capitalist, Democracies have, since the 1970s, increasingly abandoned society, keeping all of their earnings to themselves and have adopted a listless transient existence forgoing any significant commitments to community.

    He makes the point that we are no longer one nation with even the well off participating in the community. We lead separate lives.

    One example of this he calls the “Third Place,” a place where the community gets together. One place is work and another is home. The Third Place used to be a gathering place where all classes could mingle and get to know each other. In my own life it was the neighborhood tavern. My father was in the Juke Box business when I was a child and he spent quite a bit of time in taverns as that was where his business was. Two taverns that I remember quite well were owned by good friends of my father’s. One served as an answering service for service calls from other taverns. Both were neighborhood places which had many customers from nearly all classes. The very rich tended not to be there but I remember quite successful businessmen and their wives who attended parties and barbecues. The tavern would have softball teams for younger customers. One of them had a private ball field across the street that was owned by the tavern owner.

    The other tavern was not far away and among its regular customers were a wealthy heiress and her husband who had been a professional golfer. Every Sunday after Mass, there was a group that would always congregate there for an hour or two before going home. Most of the regulars did not visit each other at home, but did their socializing at the tavern.

    When I was a medical student, we visited New York City in August 1965 and the friends whose apartment where we stayed, were regular customers of the local tavern. One our one visit to the tavern, the friend pointed out all the men there without women. The wives and children were all at the “shore” for the hot month of August.

    The VFW and the Elks Club and Fraternal Order of Moose served the same purpose for many. My father was an Elk. There is a scene in the Clint Eastwood movie, “Gran Torino” that shows him socializing with the friends at the VFW. (Has it been the years since that movie ?)

    Those third places are pretty much gone. The country club and even the yacht club, where I spent a lot of time socializing, are not the same. There is an economic issue although yacht clubs are full of crew members who are not members of the club but are welcome.

    The divisiveness and tribalism we see in the elections and in the national politics are probably consequences of the lack such mixing bowls of democracy.

     

    51 Responses to “The Third Place”

    1. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

      I agree about the Third Place, though church is supposed to be one of those.

      I schedule beer night once a week, mostly with guys from the church, though there are others. Very few attend, which is discouraging. The conversation ranges widely, and disagreement is cheerful, even when meaningful.

      If any are in southern NH any midweek, let me know in advance and I will let you know where we are that week.

    2. Pouncer Says:

      When I was a kid in a small town, the local “aristocrats” owned and put their family name on car dealerships, funeral homes, furniture stores, clothing stores … Shepards’, Konantz, Ruddick’s, Dean …

      There were lots of “civic” clubs a.k.a. “Men’s” clubs, and not of the Twin Peaks/Hooters/Playboy variety … Optimists and Lions and Elks and Masons …

      Each of these put themselves out there with a name on a bright colored t-shirt and ball cap for a little league baseball team. And the loudspeakers would wail in the the evenings — Konantz leads the Elks 3-2 at the top of the 8th …

      The “third place” in the town of my youth was a park, built by the WPA with stone benches and iron bleachers, where families watched kids play baseball and oldsters play softball and everybody sipped snow cones.

      Sears and Wards and WalMart were in, or came to, town but but never sprung for t-shirts.

      It’s a rare little town, nowadays, where a family owns and puts a name to a business. And it’s a rare corporate business that puts an advertising dollar towards the local kids. Not that they don’t do charitable things. But not the way I remember.

    3. dirtyjobsguy Says:

      There is sort of a version of this among people travelling on business. The hotel bar is a comfortable place to eat and drink while striking conversations with your fellow road-warriors. Stay a few days and there can develop a good crew. I once did a job at a power plant in Balochistan (Pakistan). It was a man-camp kind of place with a 200 man security force and high walls. An Irish company ran the place so we had a clubhouse complete with bar. It served Pakistani (Murree’s) beer, gin and whiskey. Quickly a good group of contractors developed. Much nicer than staying in your rooms (no real internet anyway).

      When I get home, while it’s nice to be back with family and dogs, there is no real equivalent of the travelers bar. It takes effort to trundle down to the local bar and it always looks like you are abandoning responsibilities. So Netflix and the web take the place of socializing.

    4. Mike K Says:

      The “third place” in the town of my youth was a park, built by the WPA with stone benches and iron bleachers, where families watched kids play baseball and oldsters play softball and everybody sipped snow cones.

      My grandkids play baseball, football. and soccer but the parents that attend those games do little socializing otherwise. There are a few parties at the end of the season but it is not a regular thing, at least in Mission Viejo. My son has the team members for birthday parties of his kids.

      Church used to be a regular meeting place but not that much conversation. Maybe other churches or synagogues have more social life.

    5. Gavin Longmuir Says:

      Can we really blame the “wealthy and educated elites” for the decline in informal social contacts among the rest of us, the Great Unwashed? It seems that everything from the Masons to the Bowling Alley to the Volunteer Fire Department and the Church have experienced declining participation over the last few decades. Why?

      One hypothesis is that the big change has been women going to work outside the home. Previously, homemakers were the backbone of society. The women who stayed at home working hard to take care of their families were also available to help neighbors, form social contacts, keep an eye on each others kids, and perform the essential role of civilizing the young. When feminists persuaded women they should abandon that vital role for the trivial function of stamping papers in a cubicle farm, neighborhood social networks dissolved. Further, the need for men to shoulder more of the homemaker’s former responsibilities kept them from joining in neighborhood social activities. Which brings us to the atomized society of today, where more people know Kim Kardashian than their next door neighbor.

      This is just a hypothesis, possibly wrong. But it is a reminder that we are all engaged in a giant social experiment — devaluing the mother’s role in child-rearing and bringing women into the formal workforce on an unprecedented scale. Time will tell if this break with thousands of years of human experience is sustainable.

    6. Mike K Says:

      devaluing the mother’s role in child-rearing and bringing women into the formal workforce on an unprecedented scale. Time will tell if this break with thousands of years of human experience is sustainable.

      It is amusing to see feminists ignore the real reason why women are encouraged to enter the workforce. Inflation has placed a normal suburban, or even urban, life with a stay at home mother, beyond the means of most young couples.

      Most young people have no idea what inflation has done. They may vaguely know that gold was $20 an ounce in 1932. There are a number of histories that credit Newton with the prosperity of the last 250 years because, by his experiments with alchemy, he proved that gold was immutable and provided enough support for the use of gold as the standard for money.

      Master of the Mint and inventor of the gold standard] “Sir Isaac Newton was asked by the British Treasury officials and financiers of his day why the monetary pound had to be a fixed quantity of precious metal. Why, indeed, must it consist of precious metal, or have any objective reality? Since paper currency was already accepted, why could not notes be issued without ever being redeemed? The reason they put the question supplies the answer; the government was heavily in debt, and they hoped to find a safe way of being dishonest. But Newton was asked as a mathematician, not a moralist. He replied: ‘Gentlemen, in applied mathematics, you must describe your unit.’ Paper currency cannot be described mathematically as money. A dollar is a certain weight of gold; that is a mathematical description, by measure (weight). Is a piece of paper of certain dimensions (length, breadth, and thickness, or else weight) a dollar? Certainly not. Is a given sized piece of paper a dollar even if numerals and words of a certain size are stamped on it with a given quantity of ink? No.

      Since gold could only be mined and not created, it was established as the standard for currency. Prosperity followed until World War I when most of the world abandoned the gold standard.

      In 1969, I bought my first home in South Pasadena for $ 35,000. I bought a car, a new 1968 Mustang convertible, for $3050. At the time, I was earning $1700/ month as a surgery resident and another $400, a month working nights in an emergency room.

      Twenty years later, that house was for sale for $525,000. and it’s present estimated value is $1.2 million.

      That is what inflation has done.

    7. NorthOfTheOneOhOne Says:

      I’ve always thought that it was the creation of the all volunteer military. Seems to me that the World Wars and the draft did more to introduce the sons of the elite to the rest of America than anything else.

    8. Mike K Says:

      the draft did more to introduce the sons of the elite to the rest of America than anything else.

      Excellent point. The Vietnam War ended that as Johnson did not want to activate the Reserves, as Truman did in Korea, plus he left student deferments to be renewed indefinitely. I have always suspected that this was because of his “guns and butter” approach to the War. He did not want to lose his Great Society constituency so he exempted the children of the elites, or at least those who could send the kid to college.

      The only people I knew who had to go with doctors. Of all the people I knew in college in the late 50s, only the MDs all went unless, like me and my partners, we had already been in before college. The others were volunteers or never served.

      My wife and I watched “The Best Years of Our Lives” the other night. She had never seen it. The drugstore scenes remind us of the difference between those who served and those who did not. The bombardier who returned to his soda jerk job and the former assistant soda jerk who stayed home and became a manager, illustrate the issue.

    9. Brian Says:

      “declining participation over the last few decades. Why?”
      First TV, then the internet. Used to be there wasn’t much entertaining to do at home, so you had to go out and be with other people to have fun.

    10. Brian Says:

      “the real reason why women are encouraged to enter the workforce.”
      To be extremely provocative, it is in order to destroy the family.

      To be less provocative, it is because in our modern quantified society, numbers are all that matter, and so more women working means more workers which means more GDP, which is all that matters.

      Back to being very provocative, I find it amusing that your average self-identified feminist is quite leftist, and so strongly believes “Corporations are anti-human and bad” and yet also equally strongly believes “All women should leave the home and go work for a corporation, if they want to be happy.” Not quite sure I’ve ever heard a way to square that circle, except for maybe “Um, we should make corporations better.”

    11. Anonymous Says:

      My group was second to the last to be drafted in September 1972. The last group to be drafted was in December 1972. In my platoon was a kid from Bell Air – no Beverly Hills. Two or three Indians off the reservation, some blacks from the ghetto, but mostly us middle-class white kids I think the army did more for me to “see the other side“ than any other institution I was in. We all had to work as a team of coarse

    12. Mike K Says:

      We all had to work as a team of coarse

      I have my basic training experiences posted on my blog. It was quite an experience.

      I was a reserve and got called up but my year of active duty was not as memorable.,

    13. Gavin Longmuir Says:

      Brian: “Back to being very provocative, I find it amusing that your average self-identified feminist is quite leftist, and so strongly believes “Corporations are anti-human and bad” and yet also equally strongly believes “All women should leave the home and go work for a corporation, if they want to be happy.”

      These days, the college-indoctrinated (not educated) feminist generally leaves college with a heavy burden of student debt. Hi-ho, hi-ho, it is off to work she has to go. The combination of an exponential increase in the number of young women going to college (the majority of students are now female) and the unnecessary increase in the cost of a university education means that many women enter working life with concrete booties firmly round their feet. These women have surrendered the option of full-time motherhood … or maybe even parenting at all … before they realize what they have done to themselves.

      But we should give more thought to the girls (and boys) who do not go to college — what used to be called the Working Class. Even today, most young people do not go to university. It probably does not matter much that the Old Money Elite live in a different world from the rest of us. It matters a lot that the Scuzzy Would-Be Elite who dominate politics, government, academia, media, and major corporations have lost interest in the majority of their fellow citizens.

    14. David Foster Says:

      Gavin…”we are all engaged in a giant social experiment”

      An article in an aviation magazine observed that “If you do anything with your airplane that is inconsistent with the Pilot’s Operating Handbook, then you are a test pilot.”

      In a society, the POH is the aggregation of laws, customs. subconscious expectations, etc which are provide a guide to behavior. Unquestionably, our societal POH needed to be revised, including the chapters dealing with relationship between the sexes. Reliable contraception did matter, as did the mechanization of work and of many household tasks.

      The problem is, too often those doing the revising…or, in many cases, tearing down the whole thing and scribbling down their replacement Handbooks…have been people with little real knowledge and less judgment: academics, “activists”, editors of women’s magazines, authors & journalists out to make a name and a buck…often angry and bitter individuals who have no business advising other people how to lives their lives.

      We are all test pilots now, and while some people are good at this role, many are not. In aviation, there are certainly many people who are perfectly competent airline pilots, general aviation pilots, even military pilots, but who would not make good test pilots and who have no desire for such a role. The same applies to siciety.

    15. Brian Says:

      Gavin: Yes, the student debt situation, if not designed to do so, clearly helps to push people towards Big Business rather than entrepreneurship or small businesses. It’s too bad the GOP is so stupid and couldn’t think of anything to do about it these last two years when they were in control. I’ve always like Instapundit’s idea of making colleges cosign on all their student’s loans. Of course, there’s so much else–insurance is waaaay more expensive for a small business than a big corporation, if you want an HSA, 401k, etc., you usually need to work at a big business, etc. The GOP needs to be working NOW on how to aid rural people and small businesses, because Big Business is thoroughly Dem at this point and the urban/rural political power split is only going to continue to get wider.

    16. Mike K Says:

      It’s too bad the GOP is so stupid and couldn’t think of anything to do about it these last two years when they were in control.

      They did the tax cut and I am unaware of anything else of benefit to the general population.

      Ryan encouraged the 44 GOP Congress critters to leave and not run for re-election, no doubt warning them that Trump would not only take them down with him but mess up their lobby jobs.

      Thanks, Paul.

    17. Bill Brandt Says:

      The first four weeks was the Air Force basic-basic and, after that short period, the regulars would go on to schools where they would learn their specialty. There are no infantry in the Air Force. As reservists (We eventually figured out that our average years of post high school education was 5.3), we stayed for another five weeks.

      I had graduated from college, then because I had a low draft number, got drafted in Sep 72. I was a relatively “old man” at 22.

      Every unit seems to have at least 1 fuck up.

      You mentioning the relatively old age of the recruits, I am reminded of the “Monuments Men” who were drafted in WW2 – some masters and Phd’s were Privates and Pfcs charged with recovering Europe’s art – hidden in caves by the Nazis.

      Privates saved Europe’s cultural heritage.

      I was “anonymous” – late at night I get tired of having to continually re-key my name and email – but this is such a good site I usually [re]do it. :-)

    18. OBloodyHell Says:

      A lot of those places have gone by the wayside because of Feminism. By eradicating all forms of “Men’s Clubs” (Strangely, my town DOES still have a Women’s Club — why is THAT legal?), feminism has done/assisted in one more task of the PostModern Agenda, destroying the cohesion of modern Western Civilization.

      Along with destroying closely related Mutual Aid Societies (whut?), PML has done its job well.

      https://www.heritage.org/political-process/report/mutual-aid-welfare-state-how-fraternal-societies-fought-poverty-and-taught

    19. Mike K Says:

      That article on fraternal societies was good. I was struck by this statement.

      Maggie Walker argued that blacks could never achieve dignity and first-class citizenship without laying an economic foundation. She stressed the benefits that a black-owned store such as the Saint Luke Emporium would bring to women as consumers, where it would finally be possible to shop without fear of facing disrespectful treatment from white merchants. Walker underscored that this choice would never exist unless blacks created a clientele by kicking their habit of spending paychecks in white stores and white banks.

      Here, I think is the origin of black anti-Semitism. I saw it in a black nursemaid who raised my sister and myself. I think it originated from the fact that blacks did most of their shopping in the black ghettoes at stores owned by Jews and resented it. Now, in Los Angeles, those small store are owned by Koreans and there is significant anti-Korean sentiment in black parts of Los Angeles.

      Why did blacks not start their own stores and businesses ? The Asian entrepreneurs who own small bakeries or liquor stores often get seed funding from extended family and the entire nuclear family works in the store. When I interviewed medical school applicants, I remember one Iranian girl who had postponed her medical school application when her father had a heart attack. He had owned a Baskin Robbins ice cream store. They were all Iranian refugees and that was their living. She dropped out of school to run the store for a year.

      I never learned if she had been accepted but I was unusual in faculty interviewers in that I valued such evidence of initiative and industry. Others often had more interest in such things as volunteering. Now, most doctors are employees of big medical corporations so my concerns are probably obsolete.

      The black family has been largely destroyed by The War on Poverty but, even in the 1920s and 30s, why did blacks not organize and establish their own businesses ? I don’t know if there was more such activity in the South. The barriers would have been higher,

    20. David Foster Says:

      Black-owned businesses: there were evidently quite a few, back in the day…wikipedia article here:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African-American_businesses

      Frederick Douglass, best known of course for his anti-slavery activism, was also an investor in a Baltimore shipyard. http://www.nbcnews.com/id/13919680/ns/travel-family/t/baltimore-park-recreates-first-black-shipyard/#.W-cQRS-ZPVo

      There’s a black guy named Robert Smith who started and runs Vista Equity Partners…they acquire software companies and manage them pretty tightly, apparently they are expert at the skill of cat-herding. Smith is now reported as being richer than Oprah Winfrey.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_F._Smith_(investor)

      One advantage that both Jews and Asians have had in starting business is some level of merchant tradition.

    21. David Foster Says:

      More on Robert Smith and his approach here:

      http://www.forbesindia.com/article/cross-border/how-to-beat-wall-street-and-silicon-valley-simultaneously/49939/1

      I don’t really much like the idea of requiring personality tests for employees, and would think it would drive some of the more creative people away. It seems to have worked for Vista, though, at least so far.

    22. Brian Says:

      “why did blacks not organize and establish their own businesses”
      I’m not an expert, but isn’t this like asking why blacks didn’t buy guns and defend themselves more? Let’s not pretend that they weren’t treated much, much worse than any other group.

    23. Mike K Says:

      I’m not an expert, but isn’t this like asking why blacks didn’t buy guns and defend themselves more? Let’s not pretend that they weren’t treated much, much worse than any other group.

      I agree and mentioned that the South was probably a much harder place to do anything in the 20s and 30s but still, why so little ?

      I also agree on the “merchant tradition” of Jews and Asians, especially Chinese who were called “The Jews of the Orient.”

      The riots and persecution of Chinese in Indonesia is related to this. The Indians were similarly discriminated against in Africa. Idi Amin expelled all Indians from Uganda, for example. Gandhi was a lawyer in Africa.

      Africa has a “Market Women” tradition.

      Here is a black business site.

      There was 100 years and quite a bit of white encouragement that did not seem to help much.

      The Black Lives Matter movement does not seem to help.

    24. Gavin Longmuir Says:

      “Let’s not pretend that they [Americans of African ancestry] weren’t treated much, much worse than any other group.”

      Let’s face it — everyone has had a hard time of it; even Kings of France get beheaded. But I really wonder if other groups could not make a case that they had it just as bad, if not worse, than Africans.

      Think about the Scottish Highlanders who were shoved off their land during the Highland Clearances to make way for sheep. The roofs were burnt off their houses to encourage them to leave, and they were marched down to the coast and put into ships for the Americas. Of course, they had to pay for their voyage, generally through years of indentured service which must have felt a lot like slavery — even though if they were lucky and lived long enough, they would be free.

      Or what about the Chinese who were brought into the West Coast in large numbers to build the railways? Slaves were valuable property — according to some references, a slave in pre-Civil War US cost about the same as 8 horses. (Yes, stupid owners sometimes abused their slaves, just as today stupid people buy expensive German cars and fail to check the oil level. But stupid owners are the exception). In contrast, Chinese laborers were contractors, not property. When a Chinese worker died through over-work, it was no loss; he was simply replaced.

      And let’s not forget that much more recently, everyone’s favorite Democrat President FDR rounded up Americans of Japanese ancestry and put them into camps.

      Life is hard for everybody; then we die. So let’s just smile and get on with it.

    25. Mike K Says:

      Slaves were valuable property — according to some references, a slave in pre-Civil War US cost about the same as 8 horses.

      A friend of mine spent a few years as a professor of OB at U of Alabama. He told me about another faculty member he met who was a long term Alabama resident. His ancestors had a plantation and owned slaves. They would ship cotton bales that weighed around 100 pounds. They hauled them in wagons to a bluff that overlooked the river. They would have the slaves push the cotton bales over the cliff to be caught at the bottom.

      To catch the bales at the bottom, they used Irishmen. Slaves were too valuable for that risky job.

    26. Rich Rostrom Says:

      Many years ago I read this anthropology book: Clan, Caste, and Club by Francis L K Hsu (1963). The author’s thesis was that the characteristic social institutions of China, India, and the West were the clan, the caste, and the club.

      I think he would be very surprised now to see how completely “clubs” have receded. Even the once-mighty Masonic Order is a shadow of its former self.

      As to the decline of the neighborhood tavern: I think the rise of home entertainment brought it down. In Chicago, during the rule of Daley the Younger, the number of liquor licenses in the city was reduced over half, even as many supermarkets and drugstores set up liquor departments. Liquor consumption both declined and moved home.

    27. Mike K Says:

      In Chicago, during the rule of Daley the Younger, the number of liquor licenses in the city was reduced over half,

      Television was the enemy of the juke box and my father hated TV. We did not have one until I was in 8th grade and a friend gave us one for Christmas.

      As TV became less of a novelty and people could afford one at home, there probably was a move to spend the time at home that used to be spent out at clubs or taverns. There are still neighborhood taverns in Beverly where my sister lives but the clientele has changed. They are considerably “down market” now and fights and misbehavior drives the upper middle class away.

      Still, that does not detract from my point that we have ended a tradition of the “Third Place” in our society.

    28. Brian Says:

      Gavin: I’m talking about in America.

    29. Gavin Longmuir Says:

      Brian: I understand. My apologies, your original comment pushed one of my hot buttons. I get disturbed about misled people who seem to imagine that everyone’s ancestors in the 18th & 19th Centuries lived like kings … except for their own ancestors, or the ancestors of some particular group. Yes, the ancestors of today’s Americans of African heritage had a hard life. So did the ancestors of today’s Americans of Scottish, Irish, Italian, Polish, Chinese, Catholic ancestry. Even the ancestors of the White Anglo-Saxon Protestants did not have an easy life — as shown by the large numbers of them who did not survive for long in the New World.

      Anyway, no matter how hard life was for our ancestors, that is no excuse for any of us today.

    30. Gavin Longmuir Says:

      Mike K: “His ancestors had a plantation and owned slaves. … Slaves were too valuable for that risky job.”

      That is interesting! It triggers another anecdote — the only time in my life that I got to speak with a slave owner … well, a former slave owner.

      He was an educated professional Arab, from what is now the United Arab Emirates. His family had for many years had a farm, using African slave labor. When the UAE was formed in 1971, all slaves in the country were freed by government edict. The slaves on his family farm chose to continue living and working on the farm, now wage-slaves like the rest of us. The Emirati seemed mildly embarrassed about his family’s slave-owning past, but his attitude was that facts are facts. And his family’s treatment of their slaves had been sufficiently responsible that, once freed, the slave did not want to leave.

      I have been listening to a fascinating Great Courses series by Professor Harl on the Vikings. He points out that the Vikings were major slave traders, mainly enslaving Slavic peoples in what is now Eastern Europe (“Whites”, in today’s over-simplified parlance) and selling them to the Arab world. If Robert Hughes book “The Fatal Shore” is accurate, the treatment of “White” English convicts by English authorities in Australia was astonishingly vicious. Yet the descendants of Slavs and Australians seem to have been able to able to move on without major chips on their shoulders. Maybe it is time for all of us to do the same.

      My apologies for going off the topic of the “Third Place”.

    31. Brian Says:

      No problem. Recall I was responding to a question about why blacks didn’t start more businesses 100 years ago. I wasn’t trying to make a blanket statement valid in all space and time. (I think the greatest trick the Democrat party, or any other party I’m aware of, has ever pulled is getting blacks to vote 90+% for the party of slavery and Jim Crow. Conservative blacks should probably start a third party, since the GOP basically doesn’t exist in most big cities, and I don’t see any way that is going to change ever. Although the next time the Dems have full control of the government, I guarantee they’ll legalize all illegals on day one, at which point blacks will realize too late that they don’t matter at all to Dems.)

    32. Mike K Says:

      Slavery was pretty much the standard treatment of captives in all of recorded history until the Industrial Revolution ended the era of human and animal energy as the common form of propulsion and manufacturing. Water power was very localized and wind power was mostly used for water well pumping.

      My great grandfather was born in New York State in 1834. His parents had been born in Ireland about 1800. They had 11 children, one of whom was my great grandfather. He and his wife had 12 children, nine of them sons who all lived to adulthood and all but one lived into old age. The three daughters also lived into old age. Farm life was far more healthy than city life. Cities were a population sink until about 1900.

      My mother was born in 1898, about 18 months before her father died at age 50 of pneumonia. She contracted diphtheria at age 2 and had a tracheostomy done on her mother’s kitchen table. Her brother contracted rheumatic fever and died at age 35, leaving five children.

      The freed slaves in the US were treated badly, partly I believe, as a result of very harsh treatment of the defeated Confederacy by the radical Republicans led by Stanton. Whether they would have been better treated if Lincoln had not been assassinated is unknown, but I think probable.

      The treatment of the South between 1865 and 1900 has some parallels with the treatment of Germany under the Treaty of Versailles.

      They were also victims of discrimination and contempt by the northern whites. I am reading “Captain Blood” by Rafael Sabatini for amusement. Sabatini was European and only visited America once but his description of blacks in the 1600s is contemptuous. The assumptions about their intelligence seems to have been more common outside of America than many seem to believe.

      Human and animal labor was the rule until the 1860s. Even then, the German Army in 1940 was largely horse driven.
      The economics of slavery after 1835 are argued about. The causes of the Civil War may be debited forever without solution.

    33. Mike K Says:

      The causes of the Civil War may be debated forever without solution.

    34. Brian Says:

      “Slavery was pretty much the standard treatment of captives in all of recorded history until the Industrial Revolution”
      I don’t think is correct. My understanding is that Christianity was quite effective in eliminating slavery once it became ubiquitous. It was only with the move to the Americas that it reemerged (via the Dutch, who wanted to expand on the slave trade that they had gotten established in West Africa). If one wanted to be provocative one could place the blame with the Reformation and the associated splintering of Christendom that brought national rivalries much more to the forefront by associated them with religious differences as well.

    35. Bay Area Guy Says:

      Doc K,

      Nice blog you have here! Miss you over at Althouse.

    36. Mike K Says:

      My understanding is that Christianity was quite effective in eliminating slavery once it became ubiquitous

      You might ask the Spanish about that. The Portuguese also were enthusiastic slavers and both were sold the losers in tribal wars of west Africa.

      BAG, thinks but I skim the Althouse blog looking for good links and am reminded every day why I left,

      For example.

      I’m also catching up on my reading.

    37. Gavin Longmuir Says:

      “My understanding is that Christianity was quite effective in eliminating slavery once it became ubiquitous.”

      Not sure about that. Denmark is generally credited with being the first European nation to cease participation in the slave trade — in 1792. British participation in slavery started to wind down after 1833. Both dates are subsequent to the development of effective steam engines, from 1765 onwards. Both dates are also long after the spread of Christianity into Europe in the preceding millennium.

      While it would be satisfying to ascribe the end of the slave trade to Christianity, it is probably more accurate to relate it to the Industrial Revolution, as Mike K noted above. Human slave power simply could not compete with the steam engine. General impression is that the coal-fired steam engine freed the slaves, while the rock oil (petroleum)-fueled lamp saved the whales about half a century later. We all owe a great debt to fossil fuels!

    38. David Foster Says:

      “Both dates (of slave trade abolition) are subsequent to the development of effective steam engines, from 1765 onwards. ”

      Sometime around 1900, GE’s great scientist Charles Steinmetz was asked by a young PR man if he had any ideas that could aid in getting headline press coverage for a new turbine the company had sold. Steinmetz picked up a pencil and did a little calculating…and quickly determined that this one rotating machine could do as much physical work as 5.4 million men. The slave population in the US on the eve of the Civil War had been 4.7 million. To the young PR man, Steinmetz said: “I suggest you send out a story that says we are building a single machine that, through the miracle of electricity, will each day do more work than the combined slave population of the nation at the time of the Civil War.”

      Of course, a steam engine or turbine cannot directly replace someone picking cotton or harvesting sugarcane, so the analogy is a bit overdrawn. Still, it is directionally correct (and apparently did get headline coverage.)

      Frederick Douglass, himself a former slave, visited a shipyard in New Bedford shortly after obtaining his freedom. Here are his comments on observing a cargo being unloaded:

      “In a southern port, twenty or thirty hands would have been employed to do what five or six did here, with the aid of a single ox attached to the end of a fall. Main strength, unassisted by skill, is slavery’s method of labor. An old ox, worth eighty dollars, was doing, in New Bedford, what would have required fifteen thousand dollars worth of human bones and muscles to have performed in a southern port.”

      Cheap human labor tends to discourage the deployment of labor-reducing capital assets, whether mechanical or animal (even *seemingly* cheap human labor, evidently, as in Douglass’s story)…and lack of capital assets tends to keep pay rates low.

    39. Faith2014 Says:

      And the Left is busy destroying the few ‘third places’ still in existence. I believe that sporting events are still a place we can come together with our fellow citizens to enjoy the same thing/watch a game together. But with the NFL kneeling controversy, the Left once again tries to destroy anything neutral.

    40. Mike K Says:

      Of course, a steam engine or turbine cannot directly replace someone picking cotton

      In Robert Caro’s biography of Lyndon Johnson, he recounts the cotton economy’s influence on Lyndon Johnson and Sam Rayburn.

      Both were poor boys. Rayburn had worked in the fields as a child crawling on hands and knees to pick cotton. The poor soil of west Texas added to the misery. Cotton ruined the soil of the Confederate states, then the boll weevil came along and finished the job.

      One argument for the slavery issue was the drive to move the Confederacy west to gain better soil. However, the Great Plains were useless for such agriculture and it would not have worked, even if the South had won the Civil War,

    41. David Foster Says:

      “However, the Great Plains were useless for such agriculture and it would not have worked, even if the South had won the Civil War”

      Certainly useless for cotton or rice or sugarcane…but why could the plantation owners not have simply switched focus to corn, wheat, etc in those areas?

    42. Brian Says:

      “While it would be satisfying to ascribe the end of the slave trade to Christianity,”
      No, no, no. I’m saying Christianity ended slavery when it took over the Roman empire, and evangelized the pagans. But then somehow it came back in the 17th century.

    43. Brian Says:

      “In a southern port, twenty or thirty hands would have been employed to do what five or six did here”
      If course nowadays that happens thanks to the dockworker’s union. The comparison is irresistable…

    44. Grurray Says:

      Certainly useless for cotton or rice or sugarcane…but why could the plantation owners not have simply switched focus to corn, wheat, etc in those areas?

      I think similar questions have been brought up before, e.g., why didn’t the South industrialize like the North, why did they have a feudal aristocracy, etc.
      I wonder if this had something to do with it, almost half their population was infected with hookworms that were brought over by the African slave trade. The slaves apparently were resistant to the worms after living with them for centuries. Not to say that any physical affliction absolves the moral responsibility, but it might explain some of the counter-intuitive economics.

    45. Mike K Says:

      Certainly useless for cotton or rice or sugarcane…but why could the plantation owners not have simply switched focus to corn, wheat, etc in those areas?

      First, the Great Plains were arid compared to the Old South. It took 100 years to learn dry land farming. Remember the “Dust Bowl?”

      Dryland farming has evolved as a set of techniques and management practices used by farmers to continually adapt to the presence or lack of moisture in a given crop cycle. In marginal regions, a farmer should be financially able to survive occasional crop failures, perhaps for several years in succession.[citation needed] Survival as a dryland farmer requires careful husbandry of the moisture available for the crop and aggressive management of expenses to minimize losses in poor years.

      Again, I recommend Caro’s biography of Johnson for discussion of west Texas farm problems.

      The Confederacy was interested in Cuba and Mexico, which might have become parts of it if the South had won the war. I doubt they would have been able to take over or to use the west, at least west of Kansas.

    46. Mike K Says:

      By the way, the hookworm infestation might have at least prevented asthma.

      There is correlation.

      In the developed world, declining prevalence of some parasitic infections correlates with increased incidence of allergic and autoimmune disorders. Moreover, experimental human infection with some parasitic worms confers protection against inflammatory diseases in phase 2 clinical trials. Parasitic worms manipulate the immune system by secreting immunoregulatory molecules that offer promise as a novel therapeutic modality for inflammatory diseases

      Maybe it will become popular. Actually, anemia was the problem with hookworm, although that may be incorrect.

      In this setting, no statistically significant associations were found between sanitation and hookworm; or between hookworm and anemia, stunting, or wasting.

    47. Gavin Longmuir Says:

      “… Christianity ended slavery when it took over the Roman empire, and evangelized the pagans. But then somehow it came back in the 17th century.”

      That is a very interesting comment, Brian. I do not recall ever seeing anything about the Roman Empire ending slavery — but I am ready to be educated! Professor Harl’s Great Course on the Vikings (which I highly recommend!) describes the Vikings as being very active in the slave trade in the later years of the first millennium. There is probably a grey area between slavery and serfdom, but it seems likely that forced labor was a feature of human life until quite recently.

    48. Brian Says:

      As I’ve said a lot lately, I’m not an expert, but…
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_in_medieval_Europe
      “Slavery had mostly died out in western Europe about the year 1000, replaced by serfdom.[dubious – discuss] It lingered longer in England and in peripheral areas linked to the Muslim world, where slavery continued to flourish. Slavery became more widespread in Ireland throughout the 11th century, as Dublin became the biggest slave market in Western Europe. Church rules suppressed slavery of Christians. Most historians argue the transition was quite abrupt around 1000, but some see a gradual transition from about 300 to 1000”

      Again, recall I was reacting to this:
      “Slavery was pretty much the standard treatment of captives in all of recorded history until the Industrial Revolution”
      when I said:
      “My understanding is that Christianity was quite effective in eliminating slavery once it became ubiquitous.”
      (Maybe there was some confusion because of the “it” in that sentence? It was meant to refer to Christianity, not to slavery.)

      And perhaps my “when it took over the Roman empire” was badly worded as well. I basically meant once the Church became the dominant force in Europe. Of course, as we in America often forget (or are never told), the evangelization of Europe took a LOOOOONG time, so of course the Vikings you refer to weren’t even Christian.

    49. Mike K Says:

      You are probably correct that Christianity ended slavery per se.

      Serfdom became common in Europe after the collapse of the Roman Empire as civil order, such as it was, broke down and peasants needed some protection from rampaging outlaws.

      However, medieval serfdom really began with the breakup of the Carolingian Empire[citation needed] around the 10th century. The demise of this empire, which had ruled much of western Europe for more than 200 years, ushered in a long period during which no strong central government existed in most of Europe. During this period, powerful feudal lords encouraged the establishment of serfdom as a source of agricultural labor. Serfdom, indeed, was an institution that reflected a fairly common practice whereby great landlords ensured that others worked to feed them and were held down, legally and economically, while doing so.

      I agree with this. The invention of the stirrup led to the Feudal knight as a mounted horseman. The era of castles and knights was a reaction to instability and local unrest. The serfs were agricultural laborers who paid taxes with their labor. The French peasants did not even speak French. The French Revolution was very hard on peasants who tried to keep to their Catholic Church.

      The Black Death in Britain ended serfdom as a labor shortage resulted from the death of 1/3 of the subjects.

      Slavery continued in Africa, including the north African Muslims known as “Barbary Pirates” who enslaved Europeans.

    50. Grurray Says:

      There are still neighborhood taverns in Beverly

      Increased social mobility and the rise of consumer debt also has a lot to do with this decline in civic cohesion. All those South Shore folks who would’ve been drinking Schlitz at Amiable Al’s, paying rent for an upstairs apartment in a two-flat, their kids playing pinners on the stoop. Instead they moved out to Oak Lawn, Orland Park, Naperville onto half acre lots with big back yards, barbecue grills, 3% down, and a variable rate mortgage.

    51. Mike K Says:

      Crime is following those South Siders out to Orland Park. My sister lives in Beverly and there are quite a few car burglaries and car jackings now.

      The social cohesion that the “Third Places” helped with is gone and there are probably many explanations.

      Television has to be one. The internet and video gaming are others that affect younger people.

      My sister and her neighbors still have block parties on the Fourth of July but not much else socializing.

      The “Amiable Al’s” was our basement party room. I was taking a photo of the old house one time about 8 or 10 years ago and the present owner came out to ask me who I was. He insisted on giving me a tour of the old house. He wanted me to send him photos of the house when we lived there. I felt so sorry for him as he tried to live a middle class life in the most violent part of the city.

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